On November 21, 1963, a small U.S.-built rocket was fired from Thumba
Rohini (RH) 200 took to the sky at 6.25 p.m. on Thursday from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) to mark the golden jubilee of the first successful launch of a sounding rocket from Indian soil, the beginning of India’s big leap forward in space exploration.
It was on this day in 1963, a small American-built rocket named Nike Apache was fired at 6.25 p.m. from Thumba, a fishing hamlet near here, which was chosen by Vikram Sarabhai and his team of scientists for its proximity to the earth’s magnetic equator.
Since then, the TERLS has grown rapidly. RH 200, built indigenously, which carried copper chaff as payload, was the 2,328th test flight.
RH 200 was a two-stage spinning and fin-stabilised vehicle, with 200 mm in diameter and 3,875 mm in length, weighing 114 kg. These types of rockets are extensively used for meteorological studies and the chaff they release is tracked with the help of radars for processing wind data.
‘A low-key affair’
“The day being a momentous occasion we wanted to make it a major event. However, we had to keep it a low-key affair as the top scientific community of the Indian Space Research Organisation is busy with the Mars orbiter probe and the scheduled launch of the GSLV. We would organise a major event to felicitate the top scientists, including A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who worked for the first launch from here,” TERLS Deputy General Manager Koshy Mammen told The Hindu.
Corrections & Clarifications
The fourth paragraph of “RH 200 launch spotlights TERLS’ humble beginning” (Nov. 22, 2013) talked about rockets used for metrological studies. It should have been meteorological studies.